The first feature film of Wyatt Rockefeller is out. I watched it and interviewed him during the virtual Tribeca Film Festival.
Settlers is about a family who live on Mars. The 9-year-old daughter only knows her mom and dad and their dog-like robot, Steve in the literal bubble farm. She looks at the pale, blue dot aka Earth from her bedroom window. Then intruders come and her whole life changes.
The talented cast consists of Jonny Lee Miller, Sofia Boutella, Brooklyn Prince, and Ismael Cruz Cordova as an intruder.
I am a big fan of Lee Miller and Cruz Cordova so I wanted to watch the film. Because I am such a nerd, I did ask Rockefeller, the director and writer what they were like. He shared everyone had a nice sense of humor and he appreciated my geekiness towards some of my favorite actors.
They filmed in South Africa, about an 8-hour drive from Cape Town. The seclusion helped the cast feel the isolation. The nearest hospital was 8 hours away. They had harsh conditions with intense heat and sand storms. But these challenges helped boost morale for the cast and crew.
The basis for the film came after Rockefeller was in the woods and he felt like he was being watched. That trip, along with Western films and the race to Mars equaled to his film, Settlers.
“Mars is the next frontier and Western films are immigrant stories. They’re about trying to build a new life in a foreign place. There is so much richness to these themes.”
I definitely felt the similarities between this story and history. This pretty much is what happened when people settled in a new land. For any settler, there is a sense of ambition and hope but also a constant mode of survival.
For a first feature, he learned a lot from his arguably more experienced cast. “They each work differently, have a range of methods of how they approach their characters and how they get in the zone. It’s my job as a director to make the environment safe and support the actors.”
I enjoyed the film. It is a bit slow but just when you are about to lose interest, the plot thickens. The actors are great and I appreciate Rockefeller’s creativity and inspiration. And in true sci-fi fashion, there is potential for a sequel.
Watch the trailer here:
Learn more about the film and showtimes here: https://www.settlersmovie.com/